"Jimmy Remembers Jimmie"
Publication date 2016-12-23
JIMMY NOONE JR. with JOHN R. T. DAVIES RHYTHMIC FIVE and SIX
"Jimmy Remembers Jimmie"
Stomp Off SOS 1121, 1986
1. FOUR OR FIVE TIMES (Byron Gay-Marco H. He11man) (a) - 2:52
2. APEX BLUES (Jimmie Noone) - 3:11
3. OH! SISTER, AIN'T THAT HOT? (Will Donaldson-Harry White) - 2:30
4. I NEED LOVIN' (Henry Creamer-James P. Johnson) (b) - 2:58
5. SWEET LORRAINE (Cliff Burwe11-Mitchell Parish) - 4:32
6. LONELY EYES (Benny Davis-Harry Akst) - 3:21
7. LET'S SOW A WILD OAT (Byron Gay) (b) (c) - 2:34
8. A MONDAY DATE (Earl Hines) - 3:07
9. I GOT A MISERY (Yoe11-Scharlin-Jacobs) - 4:20
10. NO ONE ELSE BUT YOU (Don Redman) (c) - 3:30
11. SAVE IT PRETTY MAMA (Denniker-Davis-Redman) (b) (c) - 3:20
12. KING JOE (Bud Scott) - 3:05
Jimmy Noone, Jr./clarinet and vocal (a)
John R. T. Davies/alto saxophone
Keith Nichols/piano and vocals (b)
Paul Sealey/banjo and guitar
Graham Read/sousaphone and string bass
Ben Cohen/cornet (c)
ABOUT THIS RECORD
by Jimmy Noone, Jr.
Next to the Hal Smith Creole Sunshine Orchestra recording of 1984 on this label, the making of this album, Jimmy Remembers Jimmie, is certainly the most fulfilling endeavor of my musical career. All the ingredients for a project such as this had finally come together . . . the right musicians, the right producer, the right engineer, and the right record company. The very personal relationship I have with my father's music has always demanded that it be produced in its true essence, and now, with the help of the musicians on this album and the staff at Stomp Off, a life-long dream has at last come true.
The Chicago style of jazz a la 1920s is considered to be the bridge from New Orleans traditional jazz to the swing era of the 1930s. It is a delicate music born of New Orleans roots and, while exuberantly pointing the way to a new music yet to come, maintains a unique identity of its own. Jazz players of this period were, for the most part, New Orleans musicians, or at least heavily influenced by the New Orleans style, yet in Chicago they were treading a new path. The experience of playing their music up north in a drastically different environment, coupled with the influence of a postwar America in the midst of celebrating its new and powerful place among nations, had to foster profound changes in the perspectives and, of course, the playing of those pioneer jazzmen. Even though the French "passionate meter" and the African "bent scale" still remained as components of this now changing music, northern urban sophistication lent a new aspect to the music we now call Chicago Style Jazz.
During this most fertile period Chicago was a proving ground with many night clubs and dance halls featuring "hot music," among them a little place on the south side called the Apex Club. It was here that my father held forth with a small band that was to produce some of the most memorable jazz ever recorded. To be known later as the "Apex Club Series," they included the wonderful alto saxophonist Joe Poston and the one and only Earl "Fatha" Hines.
As I stated earlier, the music of this period must be reproduced with the utmost authenticity and genuine feeling and, even though I had been assured that the musicians I was to record with on this session were of the highest caliber, I must admit to some apprehension at the outset. Notwithstanding the fact that these men had acquired their own reputations in the field of jazz, I had never played with any of them before and I wasn't sure if we could get into the proper collective groove. Well, once we played the first tune at rehearsal I knew my doubts were unfounded. After only a few words as to what we were aiming for, the rhythm section took charge of their duties most admirably. Graham Read got the whole thing rockin' with his big sousaphone. His insistent bass line and that big fat sound of his immediately started the ball rolling, and later on he did some fine doubling on the string bass. Paul Vernon, on drums, immediately showed his understanding for the early style of Chicago swinging, and, unlike some of the modern day "smashers," Paul's drumsticks revisited the Apex Club with a beautiful laid-back feeling that is so important to the Chicago style. On guitar and banjo we were fortunate to have Paul Sealey, one of the most sought after musicians in England. Equipped with fantastic technique and a deep understanding of the music, Sealey's performance is the epitome of restrained but insistent rhythmic playing and solos of remarkable agility and taste.
Our pianist, Keith Nichols, showed up not only with an arm load of musical arrangements, but also a bushel full of enthusiasm that kept the rest of us in high spirits the balance of the evening. Keith probably needs no introduction to those who know of his work with the famous Midnite Follies Orchestra and the earlier Anglo-American Alliance, or the many recordings under his own name. Having him on this date was a tremendous asset, not only for his consistently fine playing, but also for his musical expertise, which helped this session go off like clockwork. (The entire recording was done in one evening.) Keith's absolute command of the keyboard enables him to dash off the most glistening solos. His chorus on "Sweet Lorraine" is among the best I've ever heard.
The trumpet, though used sparingly in the Apex Club setting, adds a new dimension to our two-reed front line, blending and supporting but never overpowering. As you will hear, Ben Cohen's trumpet is the perfect foil for the sax-clarinet format, and he turns in a sterling performance. His recreation of the Louis Armstrong classic "Save It Pretty Mama," with his dark and sparkling tone, is nothing less than a gem.
By the mid 1920s the alto saxophone had all but replaced the violin as the lead melody instrument in the orchestras of that day. Even though the saxophone, by its nature, was louder than the violin and could project far better in the unamplified music places of the period, the saxophonist was still required to provide the pure and sonorous melody lines (vibrato and all) as the violin had done previously. Associated with the Apex Club Orchestra were two pioneer altoists, Joe Poston and Eddie Pollack, who were the predecessors to a long line of "lead alto players" of the '30s (by which time saxophone sections had grown to four or five instruments), Marshall Royal, Willie Smith, and Johnny Hodges to name just a few.
Of course the alto saxophonist is an all important ingredient in any recreation of the Apex Club style of jazz. The melody line he plays is the hub around which everything else turns. His playing must be sure and steady and, at the same time, fluid and swinging. He must know when to lay back and when to push ahead. He must know instinctively how and when to shift from melody to counterpoint to improvisation and back again during the course of a tune. In short, he really has to have his act together! Such a musician is John R. T. Davies. Since I'd never met John R. T. nor heard him play, I was naturally a bit skeptical before we actually got together. Upon my arrival in England I had the pleasure of spending some time with John R. T. and his lovely wife, Sue, at their cottage south of London. We spent the day talking, eating, listening to music (John R. T. has one of the largest 78 rpm record collections in the world), and just getting acquainted. While we never uncased an instrument or played one note together, I instinctively knew he was the man for the job. A few days later at the recording session we unpacked our horns, tuned up, and launched into the first number and it was as though we had been playing together for years. Our accents may be different and we live thousands of miles apart, but the music, at least in this case, was the universal language.
Born John Ross Twiston Davis on March 20th, 1927, in Wivelsfield Sussex, England, John R. T. began his musical career around 1948 playing banjo and guitar with Mick Mulligan's band. He then took up the trombone and worked with bands led by Steve Lane, Cy Laurie, Sandy Brown, and the Crane River Jazz Band. His longest stint (nearly ten years) was spent with the legendary Temperance Seven playing trombone, trumpet, baritone, alto, soprano and sopranino saxes, and sundry other hardware. In 1968 he began a two-year stay with the Anglo-American Alliance and in 1974 performed with the New Paul Whiteman Orchestra. Entirely self-taught, John R. T. has always believed he could do anything he set his mind to . . . and he usually does. I was with him in his workshop (he is also a master cabinet maker) when he picked up an old cornet that he hadn't touched in months, knocked out a few Armstrong choruses (high notes and all), then tossed it back into the corner until the next whim might hit him. No one had told him he was supposed to practice every day in order to play like that.
John R. T.'s name has appeared on may album covers, not only as a musician but as a recording and mastering engineer. His expertise in this field is known throughout the industry, but since 1970 his major endeavor has been the recovery and restoration of vintage sound recordings. He is one of only a handful of craftsmen in the entire world practicing this important but little known art. John R. T. is the type of person who gives more to his art than he'll ever get back, and I think that's the way he likes it.
On behalf of John R. T. Davies and our wonderful sidemen, I want to thank some of those who made this album possible. First, Mr. Peter Carr for undertaking the logistics and travel arrangements and Dave Bennett for his understanding and patience while handling the entire recording process. Also a big thanks to my adopted musical family in Boston (England, that is), John Padden and Lulu White; and my dear friends at the Hot Club Of France: Bernard Madec, Jean-Pierre Battestini, and Alain Massart. And, of course, a very special thanks Johnny Simmen of Switzerland, who made a dream come true.
ABOUT JIMMY NOONE, JR.
by Johnny Simmen
The June 1944 issue of Art Hodes's The Jazz Record carried a most moving piece on the great Jimmie Noone, who passed on in Los Angeles the previous April 19th at the age of only 49. The article, titled "Blues for Jimmie," was by a man named Vincent McHugh, of and about whom more should be known, but unfortunately, this is the only piece I've ever seen by him.
For reasons which will become self-explanatory if you read on, I quote:
When Mrs. Noone was sure her husband was dead, she had him carried out so that the children wouldn't know. But they asked, and at first she told them that their father had been taken to the hospital. She took Jimmy, Junior, his son, for a long walk. She said that his daddy had been taken to a hospital but they couldn't do anything for him. "Then why didn't they take him to another hospital?" "Because he's dead," Jimmie's wife said, "You won't see your daddy anymore." The boy took it hard. "But he was a good daddy," Mrs. Noone said after a while, "He left you his diamond ring and his gold watch and his clarinet. Only a good daddy would do that. He wanted you to grow up and play clarinet like him."
In the forty years that have elapsed since then I have often wondered about Jimmy Noone, Jr., but I never saw his name mentioned, and noone I met seemed to know him. Small wonder that I felt that he may have given up music--if indeed he had ever taken up music at all! The music profession is a tough game anyway, and there were and are far more musicians who give it up than who succeed in making a living from it in some way or another.
On March 20th of 1984, my good friend Hal Smith wrote about an up-coming recording session under his leadership which aimed at a recreation of the 1944 Kid Ory Creole Jazz Band and, amongst other things, he said, "On clarinet will be Jimmie Noone's son!!! He looks like his dad, with the addition of an Afro hairstyle, moustache and glasses. Jimmy plays an Albert-system clarinet, with all those wonderful trills, octave leaps, and other characteristic devices his father used. It will be a thrill to work with him. He was nice enough to send me a photo of the Ory Band recording for Orson Welles's radio show in 1944 with Noone Senior and Zutty!" Since Hal had thoughtfully enclosed Jimmy Noone Jr.'s address, I immediately wrote to him. In return, I received two long letters and a cassette from which it is clear that Hal Smith hadn't exaggerated one bit. Jimmy Junior is a superb clarinet player entirely in the style--in its very essence but not the detail--of his unforgettable father.
There were three advance tests of "High Society," "Blues for Jimmie" and "Get Out of Here" from the Hal Smith Creole Sunshine Orchestra session of April 1984. In the company of these excellent musicians, Jimmy is very impressive. His solos are marvelously articulate and his improvised ensemble sense is fantastic and continually brings to mind the Masters of the New Orleans clarinet style.
Recording Date - June 20, 1985
Recording Location - 1 Walnut Tree Cottage, Burnham, Bucks, Eng,
Recording Engineer - Dave Bennett, Basingstoke, Hants, Eng.
Mastering - George Horn, Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, Ca.
Production Supervisor - Mike Cogan, Bay Records, Alameda, Ca.
Photograph of Jimmie Noone - furnished by Jimmy Noone, Jr.
Other Photographs - Dave Bennett
Front Cover Design and Art - Dave Bennett
Additional Front Cover Art - Diane P. Zincavage, Seattle, Wa.
Producer - Bob Erdos
Stomp Off Records - 549 Fairview Terrace, York, Pa. 17403
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